Steven Spielberg says HBO Max threw ‘Under the Bus’ directors

Even before the pandemic, Cinemas was not in the best shape. Then came a new coronavirus, one that was particularly contagious in closed spaces filled with lots of people. Theaters were closed for months, and when they reopened it was with strict rules about crowds, cleaning and masks – all necessary for safety, of course, but not exactly conducive to a relaxing night of escapism.

While theaters were closed, some studios sold some of their titles to streaming services. Others used their unreleased productions to power their own streaming sites. Warner Bros. for example, released all of their 2021 titles on the big screen simultaneously in theaters and on their own HBO Max streaming service. Subscribers were happy, but many filmmakers were unhappy that titles they had made to be seen in theaters were being dumped on streaming.

In probably the most famous example, Christopher Nolan – who had worked with Warner Bros. for years—responded to Warners’ HBO Max plan by making the public statement “Some of our industry’s biggest filmmakers and most important movie stars went to bed the night before thinking they were working for the biggest movie studio, and woke up to find out that they worked for the worst streaming service.”

Steven Spielberg remained mostly quiet through the kerfuffle, but with a new film opening (in theaters) this month, he weighed in on the controversy during an interview with New York Times. As he put it:

The pandemic created an opportunity for streaming platforms to raise their subscriptions to record highs and also throw some of my best filmmaker friends under the bus when their films unceremoniously didn’t get theatrical releases. They were paid and the movies were suddenly relegated to, in this case, HBO Max. The case I’m talking about. And then everything started to change.

Spielberg added that while he thinks some people prefer the streaming model, “for many people, the magic of being in a social situation with a bunch of strangers is a tonic.”

Count me among the last. Spielberg’s The Fabelman family opens in theaters in limited release this week and expands to multiple screens on November 23.

Every Steven Spielberg Movie, Rated

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